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Auxiliary Source With Stereo Pair

  • 4 November 2016
  • 16 replies
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Hi everyone,

I'm about to pull the trigger on a pair of Play:5s but I have a question about auxiliary inputs with a stereo pair. Forgive my ignorance, since I'm not an owner yet, but when I set up a stereo pair in the app, is the aux input of one speaker pushed to the paired speaker?

I'm asking because what I've read tells me that I need an AirPort Express if I want to actually use the Sonos units with AirPlay, and not via the Sonos app... am I right about that, or wrong about everything?

I'd ask in a store, but I don't have a stockist nearby, so I'll be ordering online. Thank you very much for your help.
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Best answer by The LHC 4 November 2016, 19:22

Yes on both counts, either input (or both) will be played to both speakers (wouldn't be much of a stereo pair otherwise), and you will need an ae for Airplay.
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16 replies

Yes on both counts, either input (or both) will be played to both speakers (wouldn't be much of a stereo pair otherwise), and you will need an ae for Airplay.
Both line-ins on the pair of Play:5s will be available as a source. So you could have an Airplay source connected to one and a turntable connected to the other. Choose either line-in as an input source and it will play through both speakers in L/R stereo.
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Thank you both so much for your quick answers.

I understand obviously that that's what stereo pairs do, but I wasn't sure whether the aux inputs were limited in some way. I'm discovering that the Sonos system is a very complete and mature product, and quite unlike the AirPlay speakers I've owned before.

Many thanks. This is a very helpful community.
The only limit is the line-in is inactive when the unit is used for surround sound with a Playbar.
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Thank you jgatie. No plans for a Playbar at this stage, but good to know.
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One thing to note on aux inputs - you actually don't have to be playing music on the actual Play:5s to utilize the Aux inputs. Once you have device hooked to the input it is completely independent of that sonos unit.

Example: Say you have Airport express hooked to the Play:5 pair. Then you buy a Play:1 for your kitchen. Your in your kitchen and want to play something on airplay (not commenting on how bad that is but anyhow ...) you can go into sonos controller and select the Airplay Input (that actually resides on the Play:5) and play the airplay to your Kitchen Play:1 while the Play:5 sits silent.
I'm discovering that the Sonos system is a very complete and mature product, and quite unlike the AirPlay speakers I've owned before.

Airplay is the marketing label for technology that wasn't invented for just audio, but for devices like networked printers where the limitations of the tech aren't of as much importance as they can often be for audio. Apple then realised that the same tech can be used for audio and labelled/sold it as Airplay.

Use the Airplay route therefore if you have the required hardware lying around; I'd not recommended investing in that without some trials to see how well it works for your uses.

Yes, at this time you will be limited to using the Sonos controller route if you don't want to use Airplay, but the tech has been developed with a focus on audio use and is therefore more stable and usable in audio applications. Music in the iTunes library of iDevices can also be cast directly to Sonos units wirelessly, bypassing the Sonos controller app, exactly in the way it would be to an Airplay speaker.
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One thing to note on aux inputs - you actually don't have to be playing music on the actual Play:5s to utilize the Aux inputs.

This is fantastic! that opens up a plethora of possibilities for legacy device placement. Thanks Chris 🙂
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Use the Airplay route therefore if you have the required hardware lying around; I'd not recommended investing in that without some trials to see how well it works for your uses.

Thanks Kumar, I'm actually coming from Phillips Fidelio Soundsphere DS9800 which sound really good, but suffered some AirPlay glitchiness, so I'm familiar with the caveats, but I'd still like like to have AirPlay functionality so I can just stream from the iTunes library on my laptop, and so that guests can just use their phones to stream what's on their device without having to install any other apps.


Music in the iTunes library of iDevices can also be cast directly to Sonos units wirelessly, bypassing the Sonos controller app, exactly in the way it would be to an Airplay speaker.

I'm sure it'll all become clear when my Play:5s arrive, but I'm a bit confused by this. I thought AirPlay was the only way to cast music without requiring a 3rd party app. Forgive my ignorance, but how does this work?
I thought AirPlay was the only way to cast music without requiring a 3rd party app. Forgive my ignorance, but how does this work?
I haven't had to do this for a long time, so my memory is imperfect; but in the music sources list in the Sonos app on the iDevice there is a music source that says " From this iPod/iPhone".
Selecting that allows whatever is under the My Music icon on the device - the iTunes library/music files that are stored on the device - to be wirelessly played from Sonos speakers using WiFi. Note that all content cannot be so cast; for example if Apple Music is playing on the iDevice, it cannot be cast to Sonos as of now, though that is expected to change soon. Nor can the audio content of YouTube be cast, as another example.
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in the music sources list in the Sonos app on the iDevice there is a music source that says " From this iPod/iPhone".

Okay, I understood that the Sonos app could play from the iOS device's library, but you made it sound like the Sonos app wasn't required, when you said this:

Music in the iTunes library of iDevices can also be cast directly to Sonos units wirelessly, bypassing the Sonos controller app, exactly in the way it would be to an Airplay speaker.

No worries though, I think I understand now 🙂 -- My Play:5s are on the way, and I have an AirPort Express already sitting here, so I won't be spending any additional money on that, and I can try them both out and see which one I prefer.

Nor can the audio content of YouTube be cast, as another example.

Right. This is why I want to have AirPlay functionality in addition to what Sonos offers. It just offers extra flexibility. Doesn't mean I'll always use it for music, but it's nice to have it there.

Thanks for your time and your help.
I'd still like like to have AirPlay functionality so I can just stream from the iTunes library on my laptop
And you can do this too, without Airplay. Just point Sonos wirelessly to the library on the computer. But this needs the laptop to be on and in the loop, so most users end up storing the library on a network attached hard disk - a NAS - that Sonos can access, so music can be played with the laptop off.
you made it sound like the Sonos app wasn't required, when you said this:

Yes, that was my mistake. But the app is free and easily downloaded by anyone to allow for their device content to be played via Sonos. As long as the content is in the iDevice in question.
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Ivovik. I understand the wish for flexibility. I think though once you get used to Sonos your going to find you use the AirPlay less and less and use the Sonos methods to accomplish the same task much better and more reliable. I too at one time had AirPlay setup with my Sonos. I also have chomecast setup on my Sonos. Both used a couple times testing them out and never again. I like staying in the Sonos app.

As lunar said. You can stream from your iTunes library on your laptop and on your phone via the Sonos app.

You mentioned friends coming over and wanting to play songs from their phone. Here is a big difference if you want to hear their songs using AirPlay you stop what you are listening to and let them take over via AirPlay. If they download the free Sonos app they can just queue up the song they want to hear from their phone next in the queue. You can share songs back and forth making a dynamic playlist mixed with your songs and theirs. And if you like what they play the next day you can look at the playlist and go out and find the songs for yourself.
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most users end up storing the library on a network attached hard disk - a NAS - that Sonos can access, so music can be played with the laptop off.

Brilliant. My iTunes library is already on a Synology NAS, so I was hoping this would work exactly as you described.
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I think though once you get used to Sonos your going to find you use the AirPlay less and less and use the Sonos methods to accomplish the same task much better and more reliable.

I'm glad you said that Chris. Before pulling the trigger it was all about making sure I didn't lose any existing functionality, but as soon as my Play:5s arrive, I'm sure I'll leave all that behind very quickly as I learn how to get things done using Sonos features. If I'd had a stockist nearby I could have put my mind at ease in 5 minutes of fiddling around with a display unit.

they can just queue up the song they want to hear from their phone next in the queue. You can share songs back and forth making a dynamic playlist mixed with your songs and theirs. And if you like what they play the next day you can look at the playlist and go out and find the songs for yourself.

Okay, this is wonderful. Absolutely worth a quick app download for visitors. That's fantastic. Thank you very much Chris.

You guys have all been really friendly and helpful. I hope I can pay it forward once I've learned about the system.